Welcome back to another season of Ultimate Fantasy Team! We’re back with brief weekly recaps of all the action in fantasy football, accounting for every play between first down to touchdown.
This year, we’ll be focusing on the best, the worst, and the hidden gems of the league with honorable mentions for the rushing and receiving position groups.
The 2019 NFL season kicked off with a sedentary Thursday night matchup at Soldier Field, but later games were jam-packed with more promising action. Sophomore QB Lamar Jackson led the Ravens to a swooping blowout in Miami, the NFC East duked it out for an early preview of division title games, and the Saints satisfied their home crowd once again with a last-minute field goal. How do the results of these games pan out for your fantasy teams?
QB: Philip Rivers (LAC)
“Marmalade” threw 3 touchdowns for 333 yards and a Chargers win in Indianapolis. The Bolts travel to Detroit this week to face a leaky defense that just surrendered 2 touchdowns and 308 yards to Cardinals rookie Kyler Murray. Rivers is a solid QB1 option in all leagues for his mighty arm and supporting cast of flashy receivers.
RB: Derrick Henry, TEN
Henry proved his doubters wrong with a flashy 75-yard touchdown reception on top of 19 carries for 84 yards in Cleveland last week. The Titans host the Indianapolis Colts and their abysmal run defense this week. Henry is poised for another breakout week against an abysmal run defense that allowed him to average 6.1 yards per carry throughout his career.
Honorable Mentions: Kerryon Johnson (DET), Sony Michel (NE), Devin Singletary (R, BUF)
WR1: Tyler Boyd, CIN
Boyd had the fourth-most catches among wide receivers last week in a tight contest against the Seahawks in teammate A.J. Green’s absence. As long as Green is still out, Boyd remains a solid FLEX starter simply for his production in Cincinnati’s offense and the Niners’ abysmal allowances on the road against opposing wideouts.
Honorable Mentions: Julian Edelman (NE), Brandin Cooks (LAR), Sammy Watkins (KC)
TE: Delanie Walker, TEN
The Titans shocked the Browns on their home turf last week, and Walker joined in on the action with five receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Walker should remain as a starter this week when he squares off against a Colts defense that conceded almost 60 yards to Chargers tight end Hunter Henry last week.
D/ST: New England Patriots
The Patriots posted a satisfactory performance in a primetime matchup against the Steelers last week, holding Pittsburgh’s offense to only 3 points. Their upcoming opponents in Miami will be even more malleable after a disastrous 59-10 loss against the Ravens at home. No matter how any defense performs the week before, they’re a must-start against Miami.
K: Ka’imi Fairbairn, HOU
Fairbairn had his own share of defeat in a last-minute loss against the Saints, including a missed extra point that was reversed by a penalty, but his supportive offense makes him a solid starter in any week. His next matchup against Jacksonville proves favorable, as the Jaguars had just surrendered eight combined field goals and extra points to Harrison Butker last week.
QB: Andy Dalton, CIN
The Bengals had a field day in Seattle last week despite coming up short in the fourth quarter. Dalton threw 418 yards and two scores for a 106.5 QB rating, but don’t expect that streak to last very long—Cincinnati’s faulty offensive line is no match for the Niners’ top-10 pass-rush unit. Dalton should be kept safe on the bench this week.
RB1: Phillip Lindsay, DEN
Lindsay had a breakout rookie season last year when Case Keenum was still in Denver, averaging 5.4 yards per carry and an impressive 6.9 yards per reception. This year, he’ll have to split his playing time with Royce Freeman. Though Lindsay will likely see more carries than Freeman, Denver will likely opt to utilize a pass attack against a brutal Chicago run defense.
(Not-So) Honorable Mentions: Adrian Peterson (WAS), Tarik Cohen (CHI)
WR1: Larry Fitzgerald, ARI
The Cardinals offense put up—by Arizona standards—an impressive game in a tie against the Lions. Arizona’s receivers benefitted the most from the effort, most notably veteran Larry Fitzgerald, who averaged 14.1 yards per reception and scored a touchdown of his own. He’s a tough player to sit but Baltimore’s defense have successfully kept slot receivers at bay.
(Not-So) Honorable Mentions: Emmanuel Sanders (DEN), Kenny Golladay (DET)
TE: David Njoku, CLE
The Browns were in for a shocker when they welcomed the Titans to Cleveland last week, and Njoku’s underwhelming stats live to tell the tale. Njoku’s saving grace is his presence in the end zone, but his upcoming opponents in the Jets were notoriously relentless against red-zone tight end receptions last year. It would be wise to keep Njoku on the sideline this week.
D/ST: Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia’s defense was hyped up heading into the season with significant veteran additions to offset free agency losses, but the secondary met its match against the Redskins at home. The Eagles travel to Atlanta this week to face a tough offense that allowed only 2.5 fantasy points to opposing defenses when playing at home.
K: Adam Vinatieri, IND
The longest-tenured kicker in the league proved that age is just a number last week, converting only one out of three field-goal attempts against the Chargers. Vinatieri should sit this week when the Colts visit Tennessee. The Titans are notably hard on opposing kickers, as they allowed Cleveland kicker Austin Seibert a shot at only one extra point.
The Waiver Claims
QB: Gardner Minshew, JAX
Minshew performed admirably last week when he came in to relieve injured starter Nick Foles, who will be out for some time with a broken clavicle. This week he’ll be tested by a tough Texans defense in the comfort of their home turf. Though, Minshew is a solid pickup as a QB2 or stand-in for quarterbacks on BYE in later weeks.
RB1: Giovani Bernard, CIN
Cincinnati’s backfield got a little less crowded Joe Mixon nursing an ankle injury, making Bernard an automatic start in both PPR and standard leagues. Bernard was a valuable PPR player in Mixon’s absence last year. Cincinnati welcomes the 49ers this week, who just surrendered a total of 108 rushing yards on 21 carries in Tampa Bay.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Thompson (WAS), Miles Sanders (PHI), David Montgomery (CHI)
WR1: Sammy Watkins, KC
Watkins’ inner monster was unleashed in the Chiefs’ blowout win in Jacksonville last week, wherein he nabbed a 68-yard reception and 3 touchdowns for over 40 fantasy points. Watkins is virtually gone in most fantasy leagues, but if he’s still around, pick him up before the Chiefs hit Oakland for another offensive showdown.
Honorable Mentions: John Ross III (CIN), John Brown (NYG), Michael Gallup (DAL)
TE: Vernon Davis, WAS
Davis kicked off the season with a majestic 59-yard touchdown reception in Philadelphia as a tribute to his grandfather one day after his passing. Teammate Jordan Reed’s status is still questionable in Week 2 against Dallas, so Davis will likely be a top target for Case Keenum. David has proven himself a solid placeholder for Reed until he returns.
D/ST: Buffalo Bills
The Bills somehow escaped with a win in an overall lackluster game against the Jets last week, in which they pressured Sam Darnold with four sacks and a takeaway. They’re headed into a favorable in-state matchup with their other neighbors in East Rutherford, this time with a more compliant offense in Eli Manning and a slipshod group of mediocre receivers.
K: Joey Slye, CAR
Slye proved that he was a worthy replacement for Graham Gano, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve, despite a loss against the Rams. He’s an appealing waiver wire addition since the Buccaneers just gave up four field-goal attempts last week to Niners kicker Robbie Gould. Keep an eye out for Slye in the coming weeks as he adjusts to his new role.
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